The octopus fishery in Mexico is supported by two species, Octopus maya and an Octopus vulgaris-like species that teuthologists have named O. vulgaris type I. The main fishery species off the Yucatan Peninsula is O. maya, whereas the O. vulgaris-like species historically has supported the octopus fishery off the Mexican east coast. Management policies protect this species in the Veracruz Reef System (VRS) in the Gulf of Mexico, where artisanal fisherman catches it; however, specimens of O. vulgaris type I harvested in this reef system share haplotypes with Octopus insularis, and they cluster together in a strongly supported monophyletic clade. The species O. insularis does not belong to the O. vulgaris complex, as it was previously believed; it is related to the American octopuses, O. maya and Octopus mimus. The results indicate that O. insularis is distributed from the Gulf of Mexico to the coastal waters off southern Brazil and imply that the octopus fishery in the VRS is based on a misidentified species.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1